Welcome, welcome, welcome to armchair expert experts on expert. I'm Dan Shipp and I'm joined by Monastir Mouse. I'm so excited that you've labeled your house the mouse house. My new house is the mouse house.
It's really exciting. It sounds so fun. Like the Mickey Mouse Mouse house clubhouse.
You going to make a real colorful and fun in there like a mouse.
Oh, wow. So it has been announced that I'm doing a digital show with Ellen that's going to all the renovation for that house.
It's called Monica's New Pad. Monica's New Pad. Today, we have a really interesting guest, Judd Brewer. Judd is an M.D. APHC is an American psychiatrist, neuroscientists and author. He is director of research and innovation at Brown University's Mindfulness Center and associate professor and behavioral and Social Sciences in the Brown School of Public Health and in Psychiatry at Browns Warren Alpert Medical School. Brewer founded Dr. Judd, an app based digital therapeutic treatment program for anxiety over eating and smoking.
You should check out his book, The Craving Mind From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits.
This was a great at the SO yeah. I learned so much. He's so smart. And any time we can learn about the way the brain is functioning, it just gives insight to why we do all the things we do. Yeah, it really helps you to work through it. You're like, oh, that's just that happening and that's that happening. And this will pass. And what I can do this to combat that. Yeah. Yeah. That's great.
Who doesn't have a bad if you don't have bad habits. I only want to talk to you.
I do want to talk to you. Okay, great. So you'll be able to talk to Monica and not to me. Please enjoy.
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Oh, Judd. We're we're so sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. Oh, good.
In most cases, it's Monica's fault. But in this case, it was never once. My fault.
I don't believe that. Dear children. Judd, I don't. You Don.
OK. OK, so I keep oscillating between. Maybe it's terrible to be isolated without children because you're lonely vs..
It must be awesome to be isolated without kids.
Well, Justin said that this never shows up in an audio recording.
Aha. So, sir, are you in Massachusetts or are you in Rhode Island?
Where are you?
I'm in Massachusetts. My wife's a professor at Holy Cross in. How do the locals pronounce it? What's that? We'll start. Yeah, we're about 45 minutes north of Providence where Brown is where I work.
That's got to be a bit of a challenge when two professors marry one another. Yeah. I mean, it's the kind of the most ripe job to ask to be traveled somewhere, right?
Yeah. Yes. So there's a whole terminology around it called the two body problem.
Have you heard of this one? No.
Tell me basically to try to get academic jobs within cities that are even remotely near each other's really challenging to do, you know, because you never know when a job is going to come up and, you know this or that.
So to both be able to live within 45 minutes of one of our you know, like my wife drives 10 minutes to work and I drive forty five minutes. It's fabulous. You know, she at one point she was a professor in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
She had to get an apartment because it's like a four hour drive for us.
So and I know people who are bi coastal or even intercontinental where, you know, there's like one of the partners has a job in France or Italy and one in New York, and they all somehow make that work with kids. Oh, no. Long story short, it doesn't work that you're from.
We're neighbors, right? You're you're from Indiana. I am. Where did you grow up? Michigan.
Oh, nice. And I did tasseled corn in Indiana in the summers of my childhood.
Dude, everybody detasseling could shoot anybody in the Midwest ever. And then a cow tipped at night. Right. Yeah. Yeah.
Well, hold on, Monica. Just so large band. No, I just got a call. I was getting a call. My garage band. I don't know how they're gone.
OK. Here we go. We're back. We're back. Right. Hold your horses.
We're gonna send you like a fruitcake. I care for a single worst start we've ever had. But bear with us back to Indiana.
Did you guys live in Indianapolis?
In and around. So I lived in Indianapolis, north side for a bit. And then in Zionsville, Indiana, which is a little town just north like toward Purdue. Basically, literally, my whole neighborhood was surrounded by cornfields.
Oh, was. Yeah. Yeah. And what do your parents do? My mom was a what is it called a BD all all but dissertation. She didn't get her pasty. She, she dropped out of grad school when she got pregnant with my older brother was kind of a stay at home mom taking care of four kids until my parents got divorced when when I was like six. Then my dad became deadbeat. So nothing there.
So she started as an aerobics instructor and then worked her way up to being a laboratory researcher and then went to law school at night and became a patent attorney.
My mom is my hero. We have nearly the same childhood, I mean, literally. So my dad bounced at three. My mom started as a janitor on the night shift. She in a building this huge business. By the time I graduated high school.
What is it about the Midwestern upbringing that it's like single moms raising everybody?
Yeah. Unfortunately, I got a hunch it was single moms is raising everyone nationally as well. Yep.
I think in the 80s, man now didn't give you any kind of axes to grind that became beneficial in your life.
That's a good question.
Well, one thing that it made me do is unlike an uber feminist, like a homegrown cornfed uber feminist, and my wife actually got me this great T-shirt that says, you can't scare me.
My wife has a P-H team. I wear that when I travel. I get so many great comments.
So that's the biggest one, because my mom growing up dealing with corporate culture. As an attorney, she got, you know, harassed all the time and discriminated against. You know, there are all these white men who couldn't imagine a woman like smarter than they were and they were so threatened by it. So that was the biggest acts that I think I had. And still grind is all these entitled men who are insecure. Yeah. Who can't handle people who are incompetent and smart and kick ass and.
And be women. Yeah. So that's the one I grind. OK. So you went to all the good schools, you ended up with a P-H, Dean and M.D. and you were drawn specifically to how the brain works. Yeah, neurology and psychiatry.
Yeah. Yeah, largely. And actually, I went to Princeton because my college counselor told me I'd never get in.
That's good. Brilliant. I should write him a thank you letter. Thank you.
When I got there, I took this freshman chemistry class where I learned about these molecules called like Putri scene and cadaverine.
And I was like, wow, cadaver's smell like shit because of these fatty acid molecules. That's so cool. Right. You just didn't know that, like, these were the molecules of life. And so I think that's what got me fascinated about, like, you know, I looked at my chemistry professors and I it wow. I could just, like, learn my whole life and I could get paid to do it. Yeah. Yeah. So that piece totally got me into that.
And I thought I was gonna be a chemist. I was going to be, you know, chemistry professor. I loved organic chemistry, you know, like all these molecules of life. And then I noticed my junior year saw these dudes that were they were kind of pigeonholing themselves into studying tiny little molecules because they had to be a world expert to get tenure, you know. And so, you know, when somebody else is an expert here, you've got to specify more and more and more.
Can I ask a quick question about that? Yeah, yeah. I guess a chicken and an egg question. So is it that there's a there's a great responsibility to publish a ton when you're at that level, right? Yeah. Would it hold logically the more granular you get on any single thing? There's likely a whole there were a paper could be published. Is the system itself designed to end up getting that way?
Yeah, unfortunately. And I think this is not it's not a highlight of the system where, you know, it's like the publish or perish thing. Yeah. And it's novelty and new discoveries that get published. You know, it's not replication, which is actually a hallmark of science.
You know, replication is really critical, but it's hard to publish a replication paper because the journals, as you know, we've already seen that.
Where like what? It's so important.
It's so and and actually, we're undergoing a replication crisis right now in science, especially in psychology. You know, my scientific focus right now is neuroscience and, you know, cognitive neuroscience and things like that. But in the field of psychology, which is kind of adjacent and related, you know, psychology is relatively young and a lot of colleges know there could be as a psychology professor, you'd have these huge psych one-to-one classes and these these classes would start, you know, the beginning of the semester.
They'd give each student a stack of questionnaires and they'd say, you know, fill this questionnaire for college, you know, for course credit. And so they'd get these a huge number of students filling out a huge number of questionnaires. And if you just look statistically, you know, if you just analyze all those data, you're going to have by chance get what are called significant findings where you, like, make this association with this, even though it could just be spareribs, it could just be a statistical anomaly.
And so this this was allowed to happen for decades. And then, you know, people are claiming this and that. You know, when you look at it, people couldn't replicate these things because they were probably just statistical flukes. So this led to this replication crisis where people were starting to question these these assertions in these papers and they couldn't replicate them. And then they realized, you know, people are being a little loose and fast with their statistics.
So then they started requiring people to actually, God forbid, think of a hypothesis ahead of time. And this isn't blanket, you know, to what all psychologists. But, you know, it's like you have to come up with an idea first. You have to preregister that idea in a in a kind of electronic vault where you say, I already came up with this idea and I'm going to test it now using these statistics. And if it comes out to be true, it shows that I didn't cherry pick.
You know, it's called P hacking where, you know, hack your P values until you find us a statistically significant result. You can't p hack anymore to get published in a good journal. So it's actually cleaning up the field quite a bit simply by requiring people to do the the scientifically responsible thing.
Yeah. I don't know if there's a name for this phenomenon. I think there has to be and you would probably know it. But our minds in general have a bias to try to make sense of things after the fact. Right. Do we have some inclination to do that? And so if you're just looking at data and then figuring out what's going on. You're going to have a heavy bias in that situation now. Yeah, totally.
Our brains are you know, they're they're association machines. You could think of it that way where we love to make association between things, which gets us into trouble big time, because there's this whole thing about, you know, correlation does not equal causation. My old QST mentor used to say true, true and unrelated. This. Could happen, that could be true. This event could happen, that could be true, but you'd have to prove that they're actually related because more likely than not, they're going to be just true, true and unrelated, you know.
Yeah. Correlation, not causation. And we our brains loved, you know, like a loud bang that equals this, where in reality it's like loud bang just happened.
But anyone who's had any medical mystery in their life, you put on your detective hat. You know, like Monica had something. She had a seizure that was out of the blue. And you start looking for all these clues. And then any anyone that seems plausible, you're going to just start doubling down on it. But I think probably the most famous case in recent times was the link between vaccines and autism. And it makes so much sense why people thought it, because the signs of autism generally become obvious around the exact same time as some of these vaccines.
But to your point of view, reverse it and said, I got a hunch my kid's going to get autism if I give him this vaccine now, give him the vaccine. Statistically, I know almost no one's getting that result. So it's really just only through observing my kid has autism. What was new? Oh, we had this vaccine. It makes so it seems like causality.
Yeah, I think that's a great example. And it also preys on people's very basic survival mechanisms, such as fear. So, you know, fear is supposed to be there to help us survive. You know, we see the saber toothed tiger on the savanna and then we run away and it helps us learn. Oh, don't go there. You know, that's kind of dangerous. But that fear also makes us react quickly. You know, we don't have time to sit around and ponder.
Does that saber toothed tiger have, you know, cavities?
I wonder if those teeth are really sharp where he looks dead at that point. If he looks. Oh, I think he has already eaten. Right. I can pet him as a chef.
So the idea there is, you know, you get people freaked out and then their prefrontal cortex, that thinking part of their brain is off line. And then you're like. Gotcha. And I can just feed shit right in your brain and be like, hey, vaccines bad. You know, when I have an agenda against vaccines. Yes.
And again, I have ultimate compassion. Anyone who's dealing with that life altering diagnoses, you know, I get it.
Well, you want an answer. This idea that something exists and you don't know why it's so unsettling for peace.
Well, and that piece is also fascinating from a scientific standpoint, because you think of the survival brain, it's been there since the cease, like like the oldest known nervous systems learn the same way that we do. On top of that, we've layered this neocortex know literally new brain, which is involved in thinking and planning and that thinking and planning piece of the brain actually needs information to think and plan future, you know. And so if we don't have accurate information, then we're not going to be able to think in plan but are thinking brain is still doing stuff.
And then it starts to spin out into worry. And that worry can actually spin into panic when that worry doesn't get its answer. So I think you're touching on something important. We're seeing that now. You know, there's a ton of uncertainty and then you go on social media and then you get this social contagion where people are catching, you know, emotions from other people. Right. Six feet does not protect against social contagion.
So you add that and then people start to panic.
And then this leads to wildly unthinking behavior.
I oscillate between being an optimist and a pessimist, a very optimistic long term view of humanity. And I'm very pessimistic, sometimes punctuated or short term view of it, or I just go, man, we have such bad wiring for all this.
I'm totally with you. Maybe that's your Midwestern sensibilities.
Yeah, well, so I think there could be some fun, like, really broad stroke things. And you've already touched on a couple of them to help people understand how the brain works. To your point that all our brain has evolved in different stages in different animals and it's just carried up the evolutionary tree and we get new layers and new layers and it's almost shocking. The thing even functions like what you're saying, that that reptilian midbrain, the things it's designed to do, and then it's got to work in concert with this prefrontal cortex, which is capable of all this crazy stuff.
The fact that it even functions is almost a miracle. It really is. Yeah, it's a it would be like designing a Tesla car, but you still have a steam powered engine component in it, you know, and a donkey involved. The whole thing somehow is going to work with such different technology.
So walk us through some of the things that like are counter-intuitive or why we process information the way we do or some of the, you know, the pitfalls of that that evolutionary ride we're on. Yeah.
So it may be helpful just for folks to understand this basic learning process and how I think it's elegantly simple. That Ockham's Razor, where the simplest explanation is usually the. One. Yeah, I love that means. So if you think of survival, our brains are actually set up to help us remember where food is. Right. So three core elements, a trigger, a behavior and a reward. I'll get I'll give an example. So let's say that, you know, our ancient ancestors are out there on the savanna foraging.
They're in uncertain territory. OK, so there are a couple of things going on. One is we're on high alert looking for danger because we don't know if there's danger there or not.
And we're also on search mode where we're looking to see where's the food, where's the food, where's the food?
As soon as we find food. So there's the trigger. We see the food, the behaviors that we eat, the food. And as long as it's, you know, gives us some calories, the reward and I say this broadly because from a neuroscientific standpoint, that reward is actually this Dobermann signal coming from our stomach to our brain that says, remember what you eat and where do you found it? It's not necessarily a pleasant thing. It's just saying this is a memory tool.
So you can remember to come back here the next day. OK. So the danger or peace comes in. Where were, you know, scanning around? And if we see the saber tooth tiger, we run away. So the trigger is we see the danger, the behaviors that we run away. And then the reward is we get to survive if they do repeat the process the next day.
Right. So very, very, very basic mechanism that's, you know, even the sea slug, which only has 20000 neurons, learns the same way as humans. So that's how evolutionarily conserved it is. So I think that's helpful just as a framework for people to keep in mind now. So one aha moment that I had, I learned this in college and then quickly forgotten it. When I went to medical school, medical school, we have this term, it's academic Ballymena where you you kind of we don't have enough space in our brain to remember everything.
Yeah. So it's like you binge on information and then you purge it. And when you come to the next subject, because you can't possibly keep everything in mind. So, you know, I kind of cleared out my brain so I could learn other stuff. And then when I was working as a young addiction psychiatrist, I was really struggling to help my patients, you know, everything from heroin to cocaine to losing weight, to quitting cigarettes. You know, and what I learned in residency was use your willpower.
You know, it's just. Yeah, yeah. That's that. That works. Stop smoking. Right. Exactly. And so.
So those are the tools I was supposed to be using. And so, you know, my patients look at me like they're like you clearly have no idea what I'm going through, telling me to quit using or quit smoking because we can't think our way out of a bad habit. We can't certainly can't think our way out of an addiction.
I really want anyone listening to hear that you will never wake up with some level of shame that will make you have a thinking episode where you get so resolute that it's never going to happen again. That is not how our brains work. Doesn't help behaviorally. We work. You will never get so shame filled that you will finally just decide. You will have to take action.
Action can lead to new thoughts, but thinking can't lead to thoughts. I just want that to be really clear. OK. Sorry. Yeah. Thank you for emphasizing them. But just going back to when I was sitting there struggling in my, you know, helping my patients, I realized I remember look out the window is working at the V.A. hospital and we're on a smokefree campus. I look out the window, I see my patients smoking in the parking lot, and I realize, wait a minute, they don't learn to smoke in my office.
Right. So this habit formation is set up as a context dependent memory process, which is just a fancy term for like, hey, remember where you do a behavior so people don't learn to smoke in my office. They don't learn to get anxious in my office. They don't learn to overeat. My office and I'm realizing, wait a minute, we're we're going about this the whole wrong way. How can I actually package my office and deliver it to them?
So I started looking at, you know, what are we missing here? And I realize this thing that I learned in college around reinforcement learning, this whole positive and negative reinforcement piece that we just talked about with survival. This is key to this whole learning process, and it underlies the formation of all habits, everything from overeating to smoking to getting addicted to our phones, to procrastination, to even shame.
And I started digging through the literature and I realized there was a whole vast array of literature from the 80s around even anxiety being a habit lupin's like, well, didn't I look at this in residency? This is so interesting.
Well, to bring it all the way back, it was novel in the 80s and by the time you're learning, no one gives a shit. Right. Yeah, exactly.
There's already been published. Yeah. Who cares if it might help people. Right. Right. Yeah. Well, you know, I think people made the connection from a scientific standpoint, but I don't think there were clinicians in there saying, how can we actually use this? So that's one thing that we see. You know, there's this whole bench to bedside thing where it's like if you have a scientific discovery, how can you actually bring it into clinical practice?
And there are a lot of people siloed in science. There are a lot of. Siloed in clinical practice. But not many people doing translational work. And that's actually something that got me really interested in becoming a physician in the first place. You know, I loved chemistry. I love learning about how the body and the mind work. But I also had this passion to really help people at the same time. And know just studying organic chemistry wasn't going to do it for me.
So that's when I decided to do this M.D. PTSD program. I can actually combine my love of learning, my love of science with my interest in helping people. And so here I was in my office, as you know, fast forward to when I was beginning as a psychiatrist, struggling. And I was like, wait a minute. Let's go back to the science. There's actually a lot to know here. Mm hmm. And what we need to know is, OK.
This is how habits are formed. Right. And so we actually know this. The next step is how do we actually change habits? And this is where it got super interesting. OK. It's already pretty interesting. But it got really interesting because it turns out that our brains work in a certain way, as in our brains are always comparing behaviors. Let's use an example. I like the one about broccoli and chocolate. Right. So if I'm given a choice between eating broccoli and chocolate to my brain, it's in hope.
Trainer You know, chocolate. Yeah. And then. And then you take the chocolate. My brain has this whole chocolate hierarchy setup. It's like milk chocolate down low on the list. Anything above 60 percent. OK. Now you're talking 70 percent. Were there, you know, sea salt, a little can maybe some, you know, but a lot. And then there's this nuance where my brain's got this whole reward value hierarchy set up.
That's how our brains work. By the way, it is that dance which is hysterical. Well, you know, you really think about it. But yeah. Yeah. In your your declaration that I like chocolate, there is within that 100 hundred other declarations in it. Yeah. Yeah. It's insanely complicated. Yeah.
Yeah. It's like fractal patterns. You can look at inside it when inside it.
So here just knowing that was a big realizations like wait a minute, this is the most powerful learning process in our brain.
Why aren't we tapping into it.
Mm hmm. So I started looking to see, OK, how can we tap into it? So we set habits as a way to help our brains be efficient so they can learn new things. I think of it as set and forget. So let's say let's go with the chocolate theme when we're five years old and we go to our first birthday party. We learn the reward value of chocolate cake. You know, it tastes good, but we also associated with ice cream and friends and presidents and play, you know, games and things like that.
And then every time we go to a birthday party, we reinforce that and get stronger and stronger and stronger. So I think of it as set and forget you set the reward value and you forget about the details. Right. Because your brain's like I got this already know it's rewarding. Bo, let's move on. Thank you.
Yeah. And just to be really clear about that. Right. So at that point, it's kind of moving almost into like a subconscious thing. Right. Or just operating in the background. You're completely unaware of it, but you're responding to it despite your lack of awareness of it.
Totally. Let's use another example. Smoking. Right. So my labs done a bunch of research with smoking and how to help people quit smoking. The average age of the person coming into my study for smoking cessation is, I should say, the average age of when they started smoking. Yeah, 13. So these are people in their middle age. They've been smoking for 30 years. They start when they're thirteen. Right. Because they associate not the great taste of cigarettes, because actually nicotine is a toxin.
Right. It makes you the first time somebody smokes, they feel sick because there's bodies saying, dude, you're putting poison in me. Why are you doing this? Like, very delicate little chamber with smoke. Why are you doing this?
Yeah, I'm cool. I'm I'm rebelling against my parents. You know, I am now acting older than my age or whatever. So, you know, this isn't about, hey, smoking's good for me. I think it's time for me to be a mature, responsible seventh grader and start smoking for my health. So so we set these habits when we're young usually. And then we you know, I had a patient who came to me who'd been smoking 40 years.
And, you know, we mapped out the number of times he'd reinforce this habit loop. Ready for this? Two hundred and ninety three thousand.
Oh, my God. He had reinforced this loop, you know, roughly two hundred and ninety three thousand times.
And of course, he couldn't think his way out of it. Goodbye.
And let's just compare. It's so vastly more than his reward system for eating at that point. I'm sure he had not eaten two hundred ninety thousand meals. Not for sleeping, not for having sex, not for anything is probably the number one loop he had participated in.
Yeah, yeah. 20 times a day. So we reinforce these things and that set and forget actually freeze our broad brain to learn new things. Right. So imagine if we had to relearn everything every morning from walking to putting on our clothes to talking to making food, to eating to everything.
We'd be exhausted by breakfast. So we have to learn habits as a way to help. But survive. It's a good thing in general. Yet we see all of these things, especially in modern day, where you can totally engineer things to be addictive, right. So there are these things that are food like I won't even call them food because they're not really food. But you can make things like the Doritos.
You know, my favorite peer reviewed journal, The Onion, had a headline that says Doritos celebrates its one millionth ingredient right now.
Yeah, because this thing is totally manufactured to get you addicted.
Yeah. My wife and I were watching 60 Minutes about eight, nine years ago, and they had brought these food chemists to an orange grove. They were peeling the oranges and they were tasting it. And they are all in to watch them taste. You know, it's kind of like watching semi's or something where they're really, really good at thinking about, um, breaking down the different characteristics of eating this orange, one of the guys said. So this is good.
It's got this component's. Got this component. What why? This is not good for us. Is that the taste last too long. So what we'd ideally like to do in the laboratory is recreate this exact hit, but make it dissipate immediately so that you'll want another bit of the product. So one of the goals in the engineering of the taste is that it goes away immediately so that you crave another one. I was like, dude, how is a human going to compete with that?
One of the probably one of the smartasses, you know, chemical engineers in the world is figure out how to make me eat more chips. I'm fucked.
I hope Anderson Cooper then asked him, how do you live with yourself?
Well, I think we all get so myopic. He is certainly not picturing the 230 pound eight year old when he makes that statement. He's just like tunnel vision on how you make this thing.
Yeah, and what's rewarding is a bonus at the end of the year. You know, cash money is cash money. Yeah.
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So so anyway, I don't mean to demonize people. You know, we're all frail humans in this respect. But if you go back to this, you know, you can see how this habit formation gets gets totally hijacked. You know, where we can now refine things, you know, like coca leaves are not addictive, but. Hey. Cocaine.
Mm hmm. So all these things that we can actually refine and make, you know. And even technology where you can totally hijack this whole system by having intermittent reinforcement, which is just a fancy term for random rewards when you leave your bags and your beeps and your pings on your phone on because you never know when you're gonna get one of those things. Your brain says, oh, is that food? Is that food? You know, because information is food.
So all this stuff gets engineered in modern day, making it really hard for us to compete with it. Yet. The good news is this is not the end of the story. We're not all doomed. This is where I'm also a long term optimist, but a short term pessimist. It's like, you know, another pedestrian just got hit by a car because they forgot to look both ways because they were staring at their phone. Yeah, it's really we've come to this.
So here, if we understand the process, you know, we're not going to follow the victims to the tech industry or the food industry if we know how our brains work.
But if we don't know how they work, you know, all bets are off. So here, just knowing these simple processes around, oh, you know, my brain learns by reinforcement learning. My brain has this reward hierarchy. This can help in very simple ways. And this is something that my lab has been studying, which is two things. One is, can we actually help people see the actual reward value right now of a behavior or are a food?
So, for example, we have this app called Eat Right Now that teaches people to bring awareness to their eating patterns. It uses mindfulness training to really help them zoom in and pay attention as they're eating. And we can actually model this out mathematically. We don't need to go into all the details. But there are these, you know, these models where you can actually look at the reward value of a certain food. And so we have people pay attention as they eat and then we ask them right afterwards how satisfying we're actually how content do you feel if they overeat or they eat junk food when they're not actually hungry?
And they really pay attention afterwards?
It doesn't feel that good. Right. Same for smoking a cigarette. People realize, oh, it's tastes like. Oh, not very good. Within 10 times of people doing this, we can watch the reward value go from very high to virtually zero, virtually zero. So it doesn't take a lot of paying attention.
It simply takes really paying attention and being curious, like, oh, what am I actually getting from this? Oh, you know, eating three pieces of cake doesn't actually feel very good. Right. Right. So that helps to reduce the reward value of an old behavior. So that set and forget that we set when we were five or when we were 13 gets updated in modern day where we can see this isn't actually that rewarding. I actually put a short animation together on my YouTube channel that actually explain this a little bit if folks are interested.
But basically, within 10 times we see this reduce, which then opens up the window for what I think of as the BBA, the bigger, better offer. OK. So what we can then do is say, OK, well, if eating three pieces of cake isn't that great or smoking a cigarette isn't that great. Our brains are actually going to go back and keep doing it unless we give them something better.
So here I think of where can we find something that's not just a substitution. You know, it's like I have a lot of patients who will you know, they quit cocaine and then they get addicted to exercise. Granit exercise is good. But if you're addicted to exercise, you're more likely to get injured or you're not going to find it pleasurable because you're feeling, you know, that drive to exercise as compared to just enjoying it. All these things.
So, you know, can we not just bring in a substitution behavior, but can we bring something in that's intrinsically rewarding and something that we all have? Something you don't have to go and buy? Well, we're really quick.
The fact that you're even designing the question to analyze contentment versus satisfying those are very, very specific words with very different specific meanings. And I think it's intentional. So. And again, just because I happen to be sober, I weirdly strive for contentment, which is not a sexy proposition when you're telling people. And I think it's worth just delineating those two things.
So they are drastically different to you because I think you've got the wisdom of lived experience. It's so interesting that you pick that up because a lot of people just blow by that and they're like, yeah, whatever. Sounds good.
So I'm curious, what's your experience, the difference between contentment and even satisfaction? But let's make it even easier for folks. Excitement. So they all start with excitement and then let's get into the satisfaction versus contentment. As we did. We actually did some pilot studies to pick these words specifically. Yeah. So excitement is something that I think modern day has gotten us all addicted to where it is. It has gotten us to think that excitement equals happiness.
Right. Right. Right. Is able to trace this back somewhere to say, experience times where that it moved from. Things like Udai Monia, which is a contentment, is happiness to excitement driven happiness and excitement gets us to buy things, you know. And so that's the basis for our consumer economies.
And in a physiological level, excitement lives in the midbrain. Right. And contentment lives in the front brain. Yeah. Right. Yes.
So that excitement piece is actually there to get us to eat food.
So if let's go back to the dopamine firing and then we'll talk about excitement versus happiness. So dopamine fires when we get an unexpected reward. Right. If you're on the savanna, you find food, bam, dopamine fires and says, remember where this was? It's not firing randomly. It's only firing when you find food. But if you keep going back to that spot, it's not going to keep firing. When you get the food, it's going to start firing in anticipation of doing it.
And that's where craving comes in. It says, go get the food, go get the food, go get the food.
So we start we think about, oh, you know, cake.
And then that dopamine starts firing and says, we'll do what are you doing sitting on the couch? The cake is in the kitchen. And so we get aunts, our pants to get up. We get restless. We get that urge to go eat the cake. So it's also true for drinking for any other type of addiction. Right. Yeah. We hear something. We see something. We smell something. We even have a thought that can trigger that craving that makes us go out and consume foods to alcohol, to anything else, to that is there to get us not content, but to get us to to theoretically survive.
Now, when it's co-opted by something that's anti survival, that's when we get into trouble. That's where addiction comes from. But it was set up as a survival mechanism. What we've done in modern day is that people equate excitement and that lack with getting us to get up off the couch and do something. So you see billboards that say, oh, you could have this car, you're only driving this car.
So we have this urge.
We're like, oh, I'm not good enough. I need to go earn money to buy that car where I need to go buy that due to those clothes or I need to eat that food or I need to date that person and then I'll be happy. So we're constantly driven in this hamster wheel of excitement driven. Must get this, must get this. The ancient Buddhist psychologists actually describe this in terms of a hungry ghost. Have you heard this? No.
Okay, so picture a ghost. That ghost isn't as important as the anatomy of this ghost. So it's got a big mouth. A tiny, narrow, long esophagus and a huge stomach. So it can try to shove as much food in as they can. But that belly is never going to be full. Can you relate to this? Oh, God. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
So that feeling of never good enough is what we're literally fed and like, we'll just get more. Just get more. Just get more. Even with money. I think it was John D. Rockefeller who is quoted as saying, you know, somebody asked him how much money is enough. He he said just a little bit more.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Enough is a little bit more. Yeah. It's pretty common. A saying. Yeah. Yeah. He was one of the richest dudes in America, you know. Yeah. At his time. So here, you know, we're being fed that excitement equals happiness. But when we really look at it carefully, it's a.. Happiness because we're constantly restless, being urged to do stuff to make ourselves happy. And then we're on this treadmill forever.
It just elicits more and more craving.
Yes, excitement elicits craving and excitement and craving have very similar characteristics in the sense of they have that restless drivers like an adrenal component to it, right?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
So there's excitement. That's kind of a clear end of the spectrum. But I want to state that clearly because a lot of people don't realize that excitement isn't actually that that great. It doesn't feel that great.
It's just exciting. Right. Right, right. Yeah. But again, so many of our favorite memories involve that state of being. Right. So going to an amusement park when you're little, you're looking forward to riding your BMX bike on this track. All these things are like, you know, for me, I was an excitement junkie.
So for me, you know, and I wrote a whole chapter in my book about this. I was addicted to romantic love. You know, that was my thing. And college is like, how how can we have more romance? How can we make this date even more romantic? And just think of all the different songs that are written about love. And, you know, what's who is it? Love hurts. Love, love.
Who was it you sang it perfectly, Monica. I got a new call. You'll never hear me say that.
So, yeah, she has no craving information.
I do have a question about this relationship based because I do think people feel when they're in a new relationship or if they've gone on a date, they're always evaluating. Does that person make me excited? Am I excited to talk to that person?
Well, butterflies, but a matter like her. Yeah, their anxiety. Right. Like, it's actually just that you feel anxious that you you're unsafe because you don't know what they're going to do or how it's gonna be. They love you. And yet it translates into excitement to which people chase. But actually is negative. Absolutely. Absolutely.
And there's actually some good neuroimaging research around that showing that in early romantic love relationships, like when people are right at the beginning of a relationship, it activates their reward pathways in their brain. The brain part called the ventral tegmental area, which produces dopamine. It gets activated. And it also activates a part of their brain called the posterior cingulate cortex, which is a self-referential part of the brain, you know, because the early stages of romantic love, it's it's not about the connection.
It's about me. You know, am I going to get that kiss? Is this person going to like me? You know, it's it's me, me, me, me, me. My loves actually studied this a bit serendipitously because we found that that's the same brain region that quiets down when people are meditating and in particular quiets down when people are doing a type of meditation called loving kindness, which is related to love, but the selfless quality of love.
The Greeks called this a gap. They right is that love toward humankind as compared to the the Eros, which is romantic love. Mm hmm. So it's really interesting to see that these things line up where the selfish type of love, the me type of love activates the self-referential network. It activates these reward centers. Whereas self less love deactivates them, you know. And funny aside, my mom, when I would start a new romantic relationship, my mom would say, don't tell me her name for three months because you're just in the infatuation stage.
And she's like, if it last more than three months, then tell me your name, because it's it's outlasted the ME phase. Yeah. Right. Right.
Right. But then. OK. So if content meant which is essentially say safety at some point, well I'm sure we'll get there. But in a relationship, it's once you hit the point where you feel safe with each other. Why do people, once they get there, like have affairs, go back to wanting the excitement? Yeah, I think so.
There's no one answer to this. But one of the answers to this is that they're probably lacking something. And whether it's a feeling of connection or there's a lot of insecurity that often comes in when people are chasing affairs and things like that where they're looking to feel alive, you know, rage. This there's this exciting quality of the chase of the you know, of the forbidden and all this stuff where they're they're lacking something fundamental in their relationship. And often it's because of them.
There are lots of things that go into this, but maybe they're feeling insecure or they're feeling, you know, there could be a gazillion things that are making them feel this lack.
Whereas if they actually look at that relationship and look at what it feels like to be truly connected with somebody in a truly selfless way, if we just look at what it feels like when we're constantly trying to hold on to things versus when we're just being generous, like generosity itself feels so much better and it gets us into contentment land. We're like, oh, when I'm when I give I'm not expecting anything in return. I couldn't were truly generous. Yeah.
That puts us into this open connected quality with others. Whereas when we're constantly worrying about am I getting enough love, there's this holding on, this contracted quality to that, that actually doesn't feel very good.
And so of course our brain says, oh, that doesn't feel good, do something to make yourself feel better. Right. And interestingly, that that lack that restless quality says, oh, wait a minute. What does this scherrer with? Oh, excitement has a similar quality. Let me go find excitement. And so we might actually fall into that simply by via our brain trying to help us survive, so to speak.
And so it's so fascinating to hear you say that. And of course, then just while you're talking, kind of evaluate my 13 year relationship. And I guess if there's a side of the equation that, yes, I could be way better at it and probably many of us could be is building the time to be mindful and aware of what you're actually getting out of it, because it just becomes such a.
Ritual pattern in this working machine, and if you have kids that only exacerbates that, you could really miss the moment where you're like, wait, what am I getting out of this whole thing? Let's try to focus and be aware of and feel and experience the rewards because they can kind of get pretty quiet on the volume side.
You know, they can. And interestingly, our brains are pretty good at turning up that AMP game where we can actually pick these up moment to moment. It's just that we we passed them by.
Yeah. It kind of also dovetails into what you're saying earlier, which is the relationship itself to be efficient, gets filed into that subconscious almost like a relationship itself is a habit and requires no thought in it.
And it's quite easy to just be on the road of like, OK, that's sort of this is this is a system that is now functioning and and now I can concentrate on something else.
Yeah. And I think, Monica, you might have even mentioned this, that safety piece becomes familiar and comfortable. And so we take it for granted. Yeah.
Whereas we could be looking at our relationships every day and just even a moment of touch or even a moment where our partner has thought about us or said something nice instead of just letting that pass by. Just take a moment to reflect on that and revel in that. Savor it. It's like, oh, what's this feel like? It feels pretty good. We add up the short moments throughout the day and then we're realizing, wow, this is a very rich, wonderful relationship without having to go to the extremes and have these these extravagant date nights or whatnot, which we can certainly do on top of it.
But it's what happens every day if we just take a moment to be aware of that. We can see that this is what I think of as the bigger, better offer. Yeah.
One thing I had to do and the reason I did it because it was life or death for me, but for the last 15 years, when I wake up, I have a ritual. I do I have to daily wake up and remind myself, a monastic, that I will never, ever have a beer and it'll be normal for me. And I learned the hard way through many, many relapses that I can't take that for granted. I have to daily remember, that's the condition I have and I have to put a few minutes into it.
Not a ton, but I have to every morning remember as I start my day, hey, you're an addict. So I'm recognizing my guilt and that I never wake up and go like, oh, you have this relationship and it needs to be on the forefront of your mind because it has all this value to your life. And you need to you know, it's interesting. I don't certainly don't treat my relationship like I do. My addiction.
So it might be something to explore even. And it's not like it has to become a ritual, although rituals can be really helpful for setting anything as a habit. Like you're talking about that even as you go throughout the day, you could just keep in the back of your head. Let me just keep my eyes open for, you know, something sweet that small that's happened in our relationship. You know, some people practices at night where they reflect back on their day.
They do a little bit of gratitude practice as a way to help remember some of these moments. But even as we go through the day, it doesn't take any extra time to simply just. Oh, well, that was a nice thing, you know. Oh, we just stood together and looked into each other's eyes for a moment as we made coffee. You know, the coffee. We're waiting for it to pour anyway, so. Yeah, you know, there it is.
Oh, wow. And then they start adding up in a way that doesn't take much effort. Feels great and helps us really set that really nice, solid foundation of connected contentment.
Huh. OK, so now contentment. So for me, I would define contentment is basically just the absence of craving just being fine. Not insatiable desire. Thought frame.
Yeah, I think that's a beautiful definition and it's suddenly different than satisfaction. Right. And so how would you describe satisfaction with satisfaction to me would be you.
I don't need any more. I don't know. I can almost only achieve it with food. Yeah. That's one of the only times where it's like I just go, go, go and tell my OK. I don't think I could eat anymore. So it's so interesting that you use food as an example, because that is what we specifically studied. We were setting up this craving tool for our Eat Right Now app and we were choosing between the word satisfied and content and we did some pilot testing.
And what we found was exactly what you're describing, which is we can eat a bunch of food until we're satisfied. I can't eat anymore, but we don't necessarily feel content when we're satisfied. Right.
Oh, yeah. And quite often when I have the feeling of satisfaction, I know I've probably done something that was off of my goal.
Whereas contentment says, you know, I don't need this to be happy. I don't need to eat more. To be happy.
Yet the Swedes have a word. This they have this word that they really value in Sweden, which is not too much, not too little. I mean that as a culture, they're aiming at this this precise moment between not too much, not too little, which I just think what a great cultural aspiration as compared to more.
Yeah. Yeah. Here is more, more, more, more, more. Yeah. How much is enough. Just a little bit more. That sounds like a great thing. And it reminds me of balance, you know. Not too much. Not too little. It's like you're right on this balance point where you're not either, you know, trying to run away from things that are unpleasant or hold on to things that are pleasant, which is where these these basic learning mechanisms come in.
You know, if something's pleasant, we want more of it. Something is unpleasant. We want less of it. Can we actually find this balance where we're content without needing more or needing to get away from things that are unpleasant?
So how do you as someone who designs apps and stuff, how do you incentivize contentment? Because, again, it's only something that was a byproduct of this other way of life. I had to adopt for survival and then only through experiencing that I recognize the sublime nature of it. But I don't think anyone could have sold me on, like, nagging feeling thing. I don't want anything more. You know, it's a hard thing to incentivize. No, it is.
And I don't think you can incentivize it in a way that the typical gamification industry does. So gamification is about lack. It's about trying to jack the dopamine system. It's about novelty. You know, it's about all these things. That's why there are levels in games. That's where they're surprise. You know, all these things are set up to Jack the dopamine system. When you're in dopaminergic mode, you're never going to be content because dopamine is not about contentment.
It's about drives to do things right.
So when we looked at that, our aim was not to try to incentivize things, but to help people find their natural rewards. And what we've found and we're still studying this. OK, you ready to do an experiment, a thought experiment together?
OK, yes. So who I'm going to start with two categories and then we're gonna get to the reward piece. So start with let's use fear or anxiety. So pick one of those. Mm hmm.
And tell me if it feels more closed or more open.
So both of you closed. Yeah. Restrictive. Closed. Yeah. Close. Yeah. How about Joy.
Open for me. Yeah. Yeah. How about connection. Get endless to me. Oh, this is a great one before, I guess, if I'm being really honest with myself.
I do feel I feel closed, like encapsulated, not tabulated. Yeah.
How about because often encapsulated to me signifies safety. Correct. When you how does safety feel.
Closer. Open. Safety feels closed. OK. So you like swaddled cuddle? Yes. Cozy? Yes. OK. How about curiosity?
Closed or open for both of you. Open. Open. Yeah. OK. OK. So let's just use the simple ones like curiosity. How about kindness. Does it feel closer. Open. Open. Closed. Drill.
Yes. So here's where it. Wow. You think this feels close? Yeah. Yeah. I have this weird. Yeah. I doesn't feel bottomless.
OK. So let's pick some of the simple categories. So I heard anxiety and fear both up close to you both. And then curiosity and joy both felt open. No. OK. So now let's put this in simple reward terms. Which one would you rather have?
Just the category of close versus open.
Open, open. OK, so there's that. Without even defining these things. Notice how I specifically didn't define them. But you kind of knew this intuitively from your own experience. It's things that feel open or more rewarding. Is that do you see the difference? Like, I'd rather have something that's more open signifying that it's more rewarding. So to our brains, there's an intrinsic reward value hierarchy. Kind of like that chocolate hierarchy that's already set up.
Things that are more closed don't actually feel as good as things that are more open.
Hmm. So here we don't have to incentivize people toward open because the incentive structure is already setup in our brains.
And fortunately, although long term optimism, short term pessimism, cropper activity is something that seems to be in our DNA. Even Darwin wrote about this before DNA was even discovered.
Paul Ekman, famous Emotion's researcher, has talked about this as well, where cooperatively is something that we all kind of have in us. And it feels better, you know, like when we're working as a team as compared to when we're trying to just, you know, beat everybody else out as an individual feels better. Right.
So this is something we have. We don't have to incentivize. All we have to do is give people the tools to learn to become more aware of how rewarding one is versus another. So as an example, with our eight right now app, we simply have people pay attention when they eat and they see how unrewarding it is when they eat because of anxiety or stress, and they see how rewarding it is to stop eating when they're full. And also they find types of food to be more rewarding.
So for me, I lost all interest in eating gummy worms because when I paid attention, they just they taste kind of like this petroleum.
And then and then I started really paying attention to things like blueberries and blueberries. Just have this natural goodness to them. It's like this perfect balance of sweetness and, you know, not urging me to eat more.
So there you know, it's just like that that orange researcher you pointed out, you know, it's like this is actually pretty good because it doesn't make us want to crave more. So we don't have to actually design this into our apps. All we need to design into the apps is train people to become aware.
But isn't there just structurally so, yeah, that midbrain is very immediate.
Focused in the frontal cortex is long term. Right.
So even when you say, like, if you're curious about it, the reward is that you don't feel good after you eat a bunch of gummy worms. But you do feel good if you eat a bunch of blueberries. Isn't that an issue of of time horizon when you're evaluating it, like forcing the evaluation to be something that's 20 minutes from now as opposed to right now?
I would say yes to both. So let's unpack that a little bit more. There's a thing called delayed discounting where so on the Y axis is reward value and on the X axis is time. So over time, we're more likely to discount things that are more rewarding. You know, it's like we'll give up a greater reward in the future for a smaller reward immediately. And the classic studies around this are, you know, I'll give you one hundred and twenty dollars in a week versus I'll give you one hundred dollars right now.
And then, you know, we're like, well, I don't know if I'm not if I ever see you again. So I want the hundred bucks now. Even though one hundred twenty dollars in a week, you know, it's a pretty good interest rate. Yes.
Yes. So we'd rather have you know, that's the bird in hand versus, you know, two in the Bush thing. Our brains are set up for immediate rewards because we don't know if we're gonna be alive tomorrow. Basically from a survival standpoint. Right. So. So we will favor immediate rewards. Like you're saying.
And if we pay attention, let's use the blueberry versus gummy worm. If we pay attention. Right. Now we can actually start to see that there is a difference in the reward value. And this is where it gets to, you know, the gummy worms. Have this for me. Have this uber sickly sweet quality to them. That makes me want to eat more. I couldn't actually have gummy worms in the house because I would eat the whole bag in one sitting.
The idea is, you know, for me, I would just eat the whole thing and I'm back.
Well, at least they're out of the house. And it wasn't actually that pleasant, but it was a driven type of eating which doesn't actually feel that good. So it didn't taste that good. It didn't feel that good. And it was driven it was more of an addictive thing. Whereas with blueberries, I have blueberries in my refrigerator right now because I don't eat them all in one sitting.
I can eat a handful and be pretty content. So the the immediate reward when I pay attention to it is actually there. Blueberries are actually more rewarding in the moment than gummy worms are in a number of factors. It's only when I pay attention to those rewards that actually start to see it as compared to that zombie like driven quality of just eating the whole bag of gummy worms. Yeah.
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Yeah, even as you're saying it just for me, it's not gummy worms. But let's say it was Oreos zei. Just in my mind, I'd have to really be aware of why the blueberry was as good as the Oreo, because it just on the surface, right? MONARCHOS No pears. Yeah. It requires so much awareness.
Yeah. OK, so the primary hack for you, right. Is is mindfulness. Is that is that our way out of all this stuff. Yes.
So mindfulness actually trains us to pay attention. You know, that's its primary goal is to help us pay attention and to focus it.
I was just gonna say, I think of mindfulness. As you know, we're walking around our entire lives not knowing how our minds work. And then mindfulness helps us learn how our minds work. So we can see these patterns, so we can see these cause and effect relationship. So we can see when we're being pushed or pulled.
And so you've picked a perfect time to be in the fields you are in because we have f MRI machines now. Right? Like everything prior, as you said, psychiatry and psychology is all very new science. And for so much of that time, a blind one, we can't observe anything that's actually happening in the mind. But now we're in this era where we're starting to really see what's happening in the mind. So what what's happening with meditation? Why is it actually good for us physically?
Well, we could we could spend hours talking about this. I'll focus on some of the things related to habits in our brains. Yeah, those are some of the things that my lab has studied. My first study is we're actually with addiction, so with alcohol and cocaine use disorders. And I was just looking to see, you know, can mindfulness training actually help with hardcore addictions? And our first study, we found that it was as good as gold standard treatment and helping people not relapse to alcohol or cocaine use disorder was a small pilot study.
So we did our next study where we did this larger, randomized controlled trial for smoking cessation.
We found that it was five times better, five times better than gold standard treatment and helping people quit.
What was the gold standard treatment for smoking cessation at that time?
It was the American Lung Association has a program called Freedom from Smoking, and it's still used it's still probably one of the more widely used programs. But we found that mindfulness training could actually help people more than that. And mechanistically we figured out that it was actually decoupling that urge from action so people could learn to be with their craving. That's what mindfulness helps people do, is like, oh, here's a craving. I can be with this rather than habitually act on it.
So when we saw those significant results, we started asking, you know, what's going on in the brain? And I started by studying experienced meditators, people who'd been meditating a long time and comparing them to people we talked to meditate, you know, that morning that we were scanning their brains. This is where we stumbled onto the default mode network, which is that, you know, the poster your cingulate we talked about earlier is this hub of the default mode network, which is involved in self-referential processing, basically the me part of the brain.
The ego, right?
Yeah. You get to that wedding that's in an individual from everything else. Yeah.
And there's a there's a conceptual component. Like, I could wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and say, oh yeah, that's just, you know, this is where we can look at this at ourselves and see conceptually this is who I am. But there's another component, which is the experientially self.
And so getting back to that close versus open thing that we played with earlier, when we're closed down or contracted, that's actually a marker that says this is where I am because we feel, you know, this is me and this creates this boundary or this barrier between myself and the rest of the world. So I'm here, the rest of worlds out there. So this network, the default mode network, gets activated basically whenever we get caught up in our experience, when we get caught up in a craving.
When we get caught up in worry. When we get caught up in shame. So talking about shame spirals, shame is when we feel, oh, I'm a bad person. And that doesn't feel expanded. It feels contracted, you know, feels closed down.
Yeah. We feel very isolated in our shame, right? Yes. We're certainly not sharing it with everyone else. Right.
Exactly. Exactly. So this network gets activated with all of these contracted qualities of experience. In fact, it gets really quiet. It gets deactivated when people are meditating, whether it's just basic breath awareness, meditation, which is a common mindfulness practice, whether it's just lovingkindness practice, where one is kind of touching into this feeling of warmth and well wishing towards oneself and others or even some of these practices we called choices awareness where somebody is just being aware of whatever surprising in their awareness, seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, all those things.
This network gets really quiet and experienced meditators. We even had Anderson Cooper. From 60 Minutes, when he was doing a show on meditation, he came into our lab where we hooked him up. We had this EEG neurofeedback rig in our lab where we could actually give people feedback from their own brains in real time while they're meditating. So he did this on camera. And first we said, OK, think of a time when you're anxious. It actually went off the charts.
Shakhtar. Well, he's a type A mother fucker. I'm sure this thing is a very sharp arrow in his quiver.
Yeah. Yeah. So he was pretty familiar with that territory. And then he started meditating. And he'd been meditating for the last month. Like like he was on fire. You know, he's meditating. He's like, I get them. Can I meditate, get a plan? I meditate. He was just on fire with it. And so he started meditating in that brain regions got really, really quiet. You can actually see this on film on 60 Minutes.
So here we can precisely line up this brain regional activity with this self-referential part of the brain gets activated. When we get caught up in our experience, it gets deactivated.
When meditating also on mushrooms. Right. There's Mike. Michael Pollan's big guess. Yeah. It kind of destroys the sense of self in a helpful way.
Yeah, I think of it as throwing a hand grenade in the brain where it goes at the self. And this is actually how Michael and I became friends was he was starting to write about this when he was doing early research for his book. And then he came and visited my lab. And actually we hooked him up to the same feedback machinery that we had hooked Anderson Cooper up to. He writes a little bit about this in the book. I don't want to give a spoiler alert about the book too much, but basically even recalling experiences when he had been on shrooms could bring back that feeling of open expansion.
Yeah. Deactivate his brain activity without him even needing to be on the mushrooms themselves.
Yeah. And there's great bliss in the destruction of those barriers, right. Between ourselves and nature in our environment and our friends and family. Right. There's there's joy there.
Would you say it is rewarding? I would say it's the ultimate version of open. Right. Is that I'm just bleeding out and everything else. Yeah. It's the kind of the apex of openness, I would say.
I totally agree. There's actually a concept you're both probably familiar with it called Flow Mihai.
Oh, my. Oh yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah I, i, i, I chase states of flow quite often. Show for us is a state of flow which we have. Yeah.
So just as an example, when you're totally engrossed in a conversation, you lose all sense of time. We lose all self-consciousness because we're not worried about oh what am I going to say.
We're just like oh this is so fine. This is exciting. This is this is fascinating. I would even say it's exciting. I would say it's fascinating.
Watari flow. Yeah. Yeah. Gary Yeah. Yeah. So we actually had people get in our FMI scanner and we had one person report that she got into a state of float's simply by paying attention to our breath and our posterior cingulate activity bottomed out. You could watch this, you know, in real time. So here we can even line this up in, you know, the state of flow in real time with brain activity. And it fits perfectly.
Right. So ChiX in my high talks about flow as it is being selfless. Right. So if you move from a contracted quality of experience and you start expanding and expanding and expanding. At some point you lose a sense of where you and the rest of the world begins. Yeah. So you can actually start to notice that, oh, you know, here's contraction. Here's expansion. The expansion feels better. So when we can start to find the conditions that support flow, we can start to support those more and more.
And Curiosity is one of my favorite ones there. It's this. I think of it as a superpower. Yeah.
In fact, last fall I was leading a retreat with the women's Olympic water polo team. And this is their first week long silent retreat that they'd ever done in their coach was really thoughtful. He wanted to help them with mental training. You know, they'd just won the Olympic gold medal. They'd won the Pan Am Games like two weeks before we went on retreats. So there, you know, and they won the world championships as well. They're doing all right, let's say.
Yeah. But he wanted to really help them develop, you know, and learn more about their minds. And so we were teaching them a co leader, Dr. Robyn Beaudet and I were teaching them these concepts around curiosity, where they can bring curiosity into the moment when they're starting to feel closed or contracted, like if they're, you know, if they're behind a couple of points in a game instead of worrying. Oh, no. Are we going to lose?
They can get curious, like, oh, what's going on? How do we need to, you know, change up our strategy or whatever so they can get into this space of flow as compared to worrying, which is going to move them in the opposite direction?
Yeah, it's almost like. Curiosity is also synonymous with solution. It's so interesting, you know, because if you if you start focusing on like we're losing fuck, we're fucked now, you're now you're really focusing on the mistakes those are in the past. But if you have this curiosity about what we could be doing better, it just, I think lends itself to solution, you know?
And that also points to the difference between the destination versus the journey, right? Yeah. Yes. Yeah.
So the team made this really interesting comment. They were talking about it. I think this is the Pan Am games and a couple of the athletes had gotten rotavirus or some stomach flu on the way down. And so they had to basically quarantine them for the rest of the team and get sick. We're asking, so what was what was most rewarding? And they said, well, it wasn't winning the medals. It was actually the journey, the struggle that we all went on together.
Yeah. I mean, that's what's most rewarding to me, as they were saying, you know. And so it's really focusing on the the journey as the destination. Right. It's not like I have to win Olympic gold medal. It's wow. This feels really good. Striving together. And that's really what flow is. That's, you know, finding the solution in the process. It's like, oh, I'm not worried about what's going to happen. I'm just focusing on what's happening right now.
Let's follow this journey of discovery and the journey of discovery becomes the solution every moment.
Well, in and in so many ways, as we're saying, you have to kind of transcend some of this evolutionary hardware. But but then you also have to transcend our culture. Right. Which is a capitalistic, individualistic gold medal culture, which is a layer that's just as powerful as the biological layer.
And it, too, needs transcending. Right. And it, too, needs to be fought against.
It does. It does.
And here, you know, it's interesting, you use the word fought against it because it's grammatically incorrect or because, you know, because that is our even that's our capitalistic notion, which is, you know, just push harder.
And this goes back to the we can't think our way out of bad habits. We can't think our way into happiness here. It's like, oh, we need to fight against this because that's the culture. Yeah. So even the culture is enculturated here. So we can ask ourselves, well, what feels better than fighting against capitalistic culture? Well, what's it feel like to be content? What's it feel like to be generous? And even tapping into those and bringing awareness to those helps us find those as the bigger, better offer that we naturally inclined toward without having to fight.
You're right. You're right. And I just think the nature of human motivation is such that, yeah, you'd have to present an option that's actually better than the gold medal ceremony in the commercial. And for me, I'm more and more believe the people in my own life. I've experienced like I say this regularly is like on my deathbed. Am I going to think about the movie poster in the opening weekend or am I going to think about the four months with this group of 100 people that resulted in that?
And shifting that thought for me is challenging. I don't know how challenging it is for other people, but for me, I am so reward based and a reward chaser that I have to be like hourly remind myself. No, no, no, no. The ride is the is the reward.
And it's easier and easier to remind ourselves of that when we just reflect on it and say, well, what did it feel like to us to work together on this film, you know? Oh. How'd that feel?
And just just kind of savoring that journey. Yeah. Helps you become more and more in the forefront of our minds so that we're not looking at the poster we're looking at. Well, wait a minute. Who cares if it's a poster.
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, this is the meaningful part.
And just that reflection helps us. Helps it stick in our minds more is like, oh, this is this is the juice here. This is the best part of life.
Yeah. And I think it applies to every single field. It's like there are a lot of people living their lives, which is I'm gonna suck this up and eat shit for the next year so that I could get the management job that will then liberate me. And then they'll only land there to find out there's Yiota CEO position that you could cover and then you'll eat shit and, you know, not enjoy any of that until you end up there. And then bad news you're on.
You're on your deathbed and you know it's too late.
And so here's the irony is that the more we try to roll over everybody else and step on everybody else to get there, the harder it is to get there. But when we just sit back and enjoy the ride, we actually find that we become more creative, we become more productive, we're less burned out, we're more resilient because we're actually enjoying this. We don't have to eat shit.
Yeah, yeah. Our values rising as we enjoy the process, which is counter-intuitive, maybe. Okay, fantastic.
So I have one more question. I just want to get out because. Don't really have many neuroscientists on here. OK? And I feel that in the field of neuroscience, it could lend itself to feeling like people don't have free will because we're just like chemicals firing. You must know Sam Harris.
If you're. Yes. Into meditating. Right. Right. Sam obviously is kind of a proponent of this theory. Yeah.
Except he's also really into meditating. So that's kind of interesting as well, because I wonder if. Do you feel like the only way to have any control is awareness? Because otherwise we're just chemicals firing if we're not. Or was Tom and all these.
Yeah. React. Yeah. Yeah. Short answer is yes. Without awareness, we're basically just automatons where it's, you know, ones and zeros. Pleasant, unpleasant. Pleasant, unpleasant, pleasant, unpleasant. So awareness is what helps us start to get back into the driver's seat.
Yeah. Cool. It was a great question. Free will. I am curious because the world we're living in is so dramatically different than the one we were designed to live in. And there are some limits, I'd assume, to how much. We can't combat that with mindfulness and stuff. And I do wonder if if our future because this it ain't going anywhere. The trajectory of technology is not slowing. It's not you're not going to banish it. Will we start augmenting Malawi, update this hardware with auxillary things to help us deal with all these new challenges of this very frenetic world where we're in a we're no longer in a group of 100 people and a group of seven billion.
We're aware of the seven billion. We're dealing with their ups and downs. Like there's just so many crazy things that I do wonder if we are going to eventually accept the notion of some kind of auxillary help with our brains. Do you think that is the future?
Yeah, I think, you know, it's interesting.
I think there's a combination of this where there are probably places where machines will maybe never be able to approximate humans. If you look at the chess machines, they're really good at, you know, kind of simulating a gazillion moves at once. And so, you know, they beat the was a deep blue that beat Kasparov or whatever. But then when they started doing these tournaments where you could combine humans with machines, humans are much better at strategy than machines and then they start to beat the pants off machines.
So here I think we can augment things where when we need simulations, where you can simulate things, the machines are going to be really helpful. We can augment things that way. But at the same time, I don't know if we'll ever be able to approximate the human experience, at least in our lifetimes, around that. The long term thinking, the broad picture, the strategy move. And I think that's what really makes us human. That's where creativity comes in.
You know, that's where kindness comes in. You know, all these things. What was the movie Ex Machina where, you know, talk about. I won't spoil the end. But, you know, it's a great example of where, you know, if you just feed us into an into an out a learning algorithm, we're gonna miss some things that are really, really important. Yeah.
Yeah. OK, so Dr. Bruer, where would people go to find your apps to help them curate mindfulness and start practicing these kinds of things?
Yeah. So I have a Web site called Dr. Judd Dot com d.r Jay UDR. I also have a YouTube channel of the same name. And on the Web site, people can find our apps. You know, this anxiety app called Unwinding Anxiety. We have an eating out.
Feels very appropriate right now, I bet, for people. Yeah. Heidi. Yeah. Yeah, totally.
So people can find that they can find my book on the on the Web site. So Dr. D.R, JD scums probably the easiest they can follow me on Twitter. Jan Brewer, do you DVR you? Those are probably the easiest places to find me.
But so great to talk to you. Thanks for taking the time and such exciting work. I can't wait to follow you and all the developments that are coming our way.
Thank you. My pleasure. OK. Be safe. You too.
And now my favorite part of the show. The fact check with my soulmate, Monica. Judd Brewer. Judd Brewer. Can you even think of another Judd Apatow? Yep.
I'm glad we had a neurologist on. Yeah, we're a scientist. Very good timing for you and all your thoughts of neural pathways. That's right. Transmitting it to ask him all the questions I wanted about your ailment. Yeah. I thought maybe that would not be productive for us. But I had questions.
We should get an arthritis doctor on here so I can really perv out. So you're allowed. No, you are.
Are you saying I'm surprised we haven't gotten arthritis, Doctor, that I can basically just make. Treat me real time in the interview. OK.
So, Judd, he talks about the two body problem, which is a dilemma for life partners in academia relating to the difficulty of both spouses obtaining jobs at the same university or within a reasonable commuting distance from each other. That would be very hard. It's like it's a it's like acting, I guess.
And I really like the idea of professors being married first meet with reason. I don't know why. I don't care if Machinist's are married to one another or two doctors. I guess I want doctors to be married to because I imagine their work is so esoteric. It would take another doctor to really geek out on what they're interested in. Oh, interesting. I like the idea of a doctor with somebody doesn't know anything about medicine so they can help benefit.
Yeah, exactly. You only need one doctor in the pair.
Well, that's John enjoyer Jon Favreau. He's a genius because he went out and got himself Joia, who is a emergency room doctor. And I would watch them raise kids.
And I thought anything going to happen, they could let anything happen because Joy is here. I know. Just fix everyone, right? That's what I want.
I always felt so safe knowing she's around. So I go into cardiac arrest. I'll handle anything. Yeah. It's about the best person to have around. We were talking about that the other day, my friend Laura. Yeah. And I because, you know, we're in this group of all of our friends and where a single although now she has a quarantine boyfriend. Yeah. Don't put her on blast. She might still have some lures in the water.
You're making her Facebook. What's the term official?
No, they're they're official. Posted something the other day about him.
Oh, yeah. Oh, great. Right.
But any who generally were the single ones, we were saying, who should we date? Who's going to add something new to the group? And what are the categories?
I'm really glad you guys are thinking that way, too. We heard. Yeah. We're trying to be. I think you need an E.R. doctor. That way I can, like, fuck around on these vacations and only worry about.
Well, I've been saying that. Oh, I'd like a doctor in the group for sure. Especially people are doing backflips and stuff off the house and in the pool. Yeah. Yeah. We need a doctor there and. Well, somebody said this was on a girl's Marco Polo. Marco Polo. If you're listening, I'd love some free. I think it's trying to make me pay now. It's not letting me do two times. And it's a problem.
Why else did that, by the way? What a great way to monetize that, because you gotta go to town once.
You're used to going to times. Going back is, by the way, we. Of double speed. Yes. So if you use Marco Polo, it's a fantastic app.
It really is phenomenal. But you'll become immediately aware of how fucking slow everyone gets their thoughts out. It's maddening. Yes. They need a quadruple speed.
Seems to have a triple boom in this payment package worth it. And probably, as I should, despised by very well, your birthday's around the corner only by a year worth of fast forwarding through all your friends.
So, you know, I'd be happy to buy them for you. You should buy them for Christine, for her. I think it's like upcoming seven dollars. I don't think you need to buy that.
Nobody really should be thoughtful. I'm so far at this birthday is not your door.
I thought about this idea, what you think about you and I shouldn't we shouldn't be doing down here. Oh, you got it. Listen. Cut it. Maybe the viewers will.
Yeah. Texas ideas. OK. Go on. Dear listeners, not viewers. Tax. So here's what I felt the other day. What would you think about this? A book like five bedrooms at a hotel. I'll get a babysitter. Get on the same floor of, like, a nice hotel here in the city. Maybe the peninsula or something. We'll be like the Richardsons, the Hanssens, you. And we'll just all wear like bathrobes and we'll get room service and we'll lay in bed and maybe we'll go to the pool.
Maybe we won't. Yeah. That's that's it was lovely that because then then what she would want just to be a lay in bed for seven hours and reader net and do all that shit and then she could check in and out with you guys. You want to be social. She could if she did it right.
I think that's good. Yeah. I think she wants some just peace. Yeah. Yeah. So that sounds wonderful. I like that idea. OK then pursue it a little further, ok? All right. And I have an idea. I'm scared to say it. OK, I'll say it. Maybe because. Maybe so. You're right. Maybe someone could help.
Yeah. Again, she's not going to hear this. What if someone like yams or something is. Well, don't be real. How about this? If you're out there, don't be a fucking. Well, gosh, you know, Reider, D.M., so I guess I'm not worried about that, just a you know, her, if we're all friends, don't fuck this up. Yeah. So that when she was in Paris over a year, about a year ago, and there was this chandelier that she wanted very badly and was really on the fence about what should I Kennish.
Not too expensive. She thought it was too expensive. I like her frugal. And if she did not end up getting it. And since we've had so many conversations, she regrets it. And it was at a. It's a vintage chandelier. It's going to be at a pawn shop. Is there going to be hard to track down? But I'm going to do it.
You're saving the day and we're gonna get it. I really hope it's still available. That's my. I'm worried. Got Bob. If you bought it. If the listener and you bought it. Can you give it to us? Because it's her birthday.
This is the year. The exact kind of challenge for you, though. I love it. Yeah. This is your sweet spot. I would really wordle tracking something down, smoothing gum.
Shoeing Veronica Mars. Veronica Mars. Yeah. Do we only appropriate that Ron Mars would get something that had to be Ron Mars for her birthday? I really hope it works out. It doesn't work out. She'll divorce us.
I guarantee I'm going to hate it because if you're not going to like the look of it. Yeah, I already know that. I already know that she made the right decision and didn't buy it.
No. Why? I just know. I can tell. She buys things if. No. No, she she wants it. She has said it so many times.
Where where's it going. I think it should go in your bathroom. Oh. And I won't like it. Well to see it all. But it'll be over the top.
It'll be as well. Look. It's beautiful. All right. I won't look up. You've seen it and you like it. I can't remember.
I like it.
She likes it. That's all that matters. OK. He said his dad was a deadbeat. OK. And then I kind of got interested in where that phrase came from.
Oh yeah. Who? I didn't really find it. Oh shit.
OK, I want to guess. Well, yeah. Let's guess. I think it's a newspaper term. I think it's people who got assigned beats. You know, they call that in journalism of science B the financial beat. I think it's a beat that doesn't generate any stories. But you been given this completely dead beat. Oh. And then that just ended up because newspaper writers affect our bloke wheels that it just emanated from there. As if it emanated from sports.
Oh, yes. So many of the scenes are like they're sports related.
Don't strike out, right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I'm guessing it's coming from.
From the newspaper world. Interesting. But how does that equate to a deadbeat parent?
Well, just people probably were using the. Well, that's a deadbeat. That's a deadbeat. You know, it's something useless. Oh. And then it just got transferred to deadbeat parents.
That thing that or the only other thing I can think of that has Bede's. Well, there's to walk two more. There's beats and cop patrols. You have different beats. You could have a dead beat. Like there's nothing going.
So similar. Similar. Yeah. And then I guess you could say musically, like, that's a deadbeat. It doesn't add anything to the song. I'm going with the newspaper. Yes. I like the newspaper guests when I.
You're dead. Be just the sound of it. I hear like physical abuse.
Oh, no. Deadbeat dad doesn't mean that.
No, I know that. Yeah. Yeah, I know. It doesn't mean that at all. You're absent. Exactly. But when I hear the words dead and beat, it sounds to me like violent and somebody was beaten to death. Well, then.
Right. That would be Lassie. So dead beat to be beat. Dead. That's the phrase you're afraid of. The person was beat dead. Well, sure. I don't like that. You know, I flip it. OK. The legal definition defines deadbeat parents as Pynt. Yeah, I like that. It's parents. It's not really fair for us to say deadbeat dad. Is that fair? OK. It's an honor present.
Fair. Well, in his case, it was that and. Yeah. OK. The legal definition defines deadbeat parents as parents of either gender who have freely chosen not to be supportive parents or who do not pay their child support obligations. However, the label has become so generalized that the freely chosen aspect is too often forgotten. Most of the fathers lumped in as deadbeat dads are not dads unwilling to support their children. They are simply unable to afford the child support.
Yeah, when 66 percent of all child support not paid by fathers is due to an inability to come up with the money calling all the dads who missed payments, deadbeats is painting with far too broad of a brush. Hmm. Interesting.
My father never pay child support, so he drove a Corvette and he had a lot.
So he was technically a deadbeat dad.
I hate to say that out loud, but it is. The truth. That's where a lot of my ire stands. That's the thing I can't make peace with. He was lovely. He was sweet to me. And then he was also you to be like. Yeah, he did. He loved me. But it's hard for me to reconcile the fact that he and Huckabee Charles board with it because he was always on the verge of not having any money.
He just spent all day.
Always, as a rule of thumb, if he had written a book on finance, it would have been spend one hundred and seventy percent of what you make. That was his. So there were periods of his life where he actually made a ton of money. Like, I think he made almost a million dollars a year in Michigan. And like 98.
But he went and immediately bought a million dollar house, a Jaguar to Harley's Bubba Bar. He spent more than.
He had this gangster apartment in Chicago overlooking the river. He would not be forced to pay. That's what my mother never took him to court. That's what would have happened. She could have taken him to court for not paying child support. She could have reported him, Ray. And she just never did.
OK, so we'll speaking up in the 80s. How many single moms, OK? By 1980, the number of single parent families stood at five point nine million, which represented an increase of 71 percent during the 70s. The rate of increase slowed significantly during the 80s, although the number of one parent families continued to increase. Well, my parents got divorced in 1978. Oh, so they were part of this group. I was still one of very few think we were the only family on our block.
Really had a single parent. Yeah.
It's so amazing how it's cheap.
I mean, but it was really segregated economically. So Axford Acre's was pretty nice. It was like Middle-Class and everyone's married. But then all my friends who I liked hanging out with the poor kids from LaSalle Gardens and all these different mobile home parks, all those people's parents were divorced. Well, it makes sense, right? If you only have one income coming in, you're most likely going to have less money. That's true. And I think there's other factors.
But yeah. Yeah, I think the alcoholism writers higher. I think the domestic disturbance, you know, there's a lot of things inextricably married to low income. That's unfortunate.
Right. But it's all connected. Right? Maybe like if you're by yourself, you're raising three kids. That's maybe a little miserable, you know. I mean, any don't you have one job? You know, not very much money. Like, maybe you're more willing to drink and then it's a spiral.
But I have to imagine there's a really high correlation between low income and unwanted pregnancies. I don't I don't think rich kids have nearly as many unwanted babies.
Yeah, well, exactly. Yeah. So that all feeds into itself.
And again, like health care, like rich kids get on birth control or have abortions. And there was just yesterday the Supreme Court, the Louisiana abortion case. There's a bunch of horseshit, these trap laws where they say, like, you have to have the one of them was the what?
The hallways had to be long and are wide enough to support two hospital beds passing each other at speed. Like something that would never happen at any place. Yeah.
And this one specifically was there had to be another type of hospital within some range of the clinic. Something went wrong.
Yeah. And then I also think maybe that those doctors also had to be resident doctors at other hospitals, which is just in.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. But it was another positive Supreme Court ruling. There's been yes, it Roberts you voted in his real allegiance, which is very admirable is precedent. That's his. Yeah. It's like he won't let his opinion override precedent. Like he was basically deciding. No, we've decided this case. It was Roe v. Wade run. This is in opposition to Roe v. Wade.
Well, there was a case in Texas, I think more specific. That was very it was this exact thing. OK.
I think Roe v. Wade is still like Kwoh on the chopping block. Yeah. Oh, my God.
Yeah. Anyway, so. So that was good. But, you know, it's just you see how it all ties together, right? So if if the clinic can't be in a rural area, then people who are in poor areas can't get abortions. And then it's just this cycle. Yeah. It's all part of the same conversation we're having over and over again. Get where especially like black people are again in these positions like that and they can't get out of it.
So this was good. This was a good news for this approval. As that system's guy told us, whatever result you're seeing is a perfectly designed system to create that result. Yeah. So if you don't like the results, you can just wish the results are different. The system is creating them perfectly.
Yeah. The meme, though, you know, has been going around is this system is not broken. It was built this way. Right. Right. Right. Right, right. Right. Yeah. Yeah. It works perfectly. Yeah. To get the result that we're getting. Oh yes. You talked about the 60 Minutes food chemist in I read this article. And who is. Yeah. They just actively look make an addiction. Yeah. And I'm going to say I'm not I would say I'm not as coocoo about food is I think a lot of my friends are.
I'm not like you were vegan for a bit. You've done no great things to feel good for sure.
I guess that's what I'm saying is it's it's not my cause per say. I'm not someone who's like anti GMO and all these different things. But when I saw that, I did think like I guess let me let me back up. If you want to fucking eat McDonalds, go get them. I guess that's what I'm saying, that I have friends that probably want to make that illegal. Right. So I'm like, go get them. Get fat, die, whatever.
Oh, I'm you know, that part of me is allbritton die now. But don't die. But but you know. But it is your right to. With that said, I'm watching that. It's not unlike the technology in our apps where I was watching that and I realized we are defenseless. There are people that are much smarter than us and have a much better plan to trick your body that any one would be powerless over if they make the taste disappear.
Me at least. I mean, you can't compete with that now. And I was like, how can an individual compete with billions of dollars being spent to make you do this? And that's where we get into this huge ethical question. And it correlates currently to masks, right? Yes. Everyone technically has the right to commit suicide, to kill themselves. By you do not have the right to kill somebody. Yes, it's true, it's true again.
And I just want to be on record as saying, look, I am way further on the right side of the spectrum about Corona than all my friends. I've been wrong several times already. I've admitted to. But I still am like there ain't no stopping it unless the hospitals are overrun. Let's just get this thing going. Protect the old people, all people.
That tornado hospitals are starting to get really crazy here. They just sent out and they're getting more. They're getting worse. Yeah. You know, part of me and again, the libertarian part of me is like, you know, old people are drastically out pacing the rest of the population for dying of this. And I'm sorry. I love my my. Well, I've lost my last grandparent recently, but I love my love, my grandparents.
It's on them to protect themselves. I'm sorry. It's part of me is like you're the one that's at high risk. So you got to have your shit buttoned up. You gotta not interact with people without mass. You got to buy. Let me just. Okay. I'm just telling you my position. But. I still have to do the right thing ethically, even though I feel that way emotionally about it. I have to do the safest thing possible.
Yeah, I would do everything I can because some of those old people aren't going to do it and they're stubborn and they have this that another reason that I should be benevolent enough to help. And I'm going to do that. I'm going to go against what my instinct is to do. And there's no arguing that a both people have Massen. You're in the single digit percentage of vaccination.
So as opposed to 70 percent, I guess here's my thing. It's like, oh, God, I always I always use this. No wonder they hate me. If you're diabetic and you don't have insulin on you and you can't eat a bunch of carbs right now, it's not my job to fuckin take all the carbs out of the restaurant or not eat carbs in front of you. It's your job to monitor your blood sugar. So if you are.
It's susceptible to this disease. You've got to protect yourself. That's not my job. But older people generally are the ones that need a little more help. Right. So. Right, you're right. If I need to help my grandma, if I'm the one in charge of taking care of her. Yeah. And I have to go to the grocery store to biased groceries. And no one there is wearing a mask. And now I am totally susceptible and I bring that to them.
They're being careful. That's the best case scenario. But I could bring it to them. But again, and not to be a dig, but, you know, you shooting hang with your grandparents until there's a vaccine. But but what if they can't feed themselves? Oh, well, then you can drop shit off at their door. I mean, you don't have to interact with.
But older people need more help. They just need more help. Like, my mom's sister is living with my grandparents now and that needs to happen. That's not like she just wants to. That that needs to happen. And so if my aunt gets it, yes, she'll probably be fine, but they will not be fine. And it's not a choice for a lot of people. And a lot of people live. No, we're privileged. We can be distant and all we can do that.
A lot of people don't have that luxury. They're a big family living in one house and you can't separate, you know. So it is up to us to have some social responsibility to help the people who are not in the positions we're in.
Yeah, you know, my friend has it right now. I told his whole story. Now, you was supposed to go off roading.
Aha. So my friend is a music producer, and he and I were supposed to go off roading and it was all set and they called me the day before. I am so sorry, but I have to fly to Miami. My Miami. Some big hip hop artists wanted him to come record the next morning. So he went and he was there for a few days and then he came back. And when he got back, he goes, Yo, they do not give a fuck.
Tone there. Yeah. No one had blanck, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then he he got it. Got it while he's there. So he has it right now. And I've been checking in with him to see, like, you know, how is he. He's like, it's good. You know, I my breathing hasn't been affected, which is good. But he says that the day before he was so fucked up that his wife was talking to him and he caught it.
He's like, I kind of I thought, you speak in another language. I was like, oh, my God, I'm I'm going downhill. Went to bed, woke up the next morning and was like. Oh, it passed. I feel back to normal. He's excited his wife makes him his favorite meal. Pork chops with this mushroom gravy. And he goes, Honey, you change the recipe now. And she's like, now he's like, jaded.
What would you do different? She's like, Honey, I didn't do anything different. Like. Only got a taste. He can't taste anything. He's like, bring me a strawberry. She brought him a strawberry. He nothing. He has no smell. It tastes as of yesterday. Now, hopefully that will return. See, but that's freaky.
This is a we don't know all the things yet. Yeah, I'm sure it'll return. He'll be fine. Well, that's scary. I hope he feels better. Well, anyway, it's important to have social responsibility.
Well, again, that's the whole reason I laid out my whole thing is I'm telling you what I would want to do. Yeah. But I am saying there is a time for individual rights and there is a time to get over that. Yeah. You know, the answer going to be a year out of your life. Yeah. And to be a fucking year of your life. Of 80 years, hopefully. Yeah. That you had to wear mask off the house at the risk of getting into a fight with you, which were or are going to avoid.
But I also you do have to weigh the economy. You have to weigh what percentage of GDP drop will result in which amount of death, and then compare that potential collateral death against what the deaths would have been from Corona, that you just responsibly you have to think of that. If the cure is worse than the disease, if we end up killing people because people are getting screened for cancer and they're not getting their vaccines on time and all these other things.
If that number ends up being worse than zero, then logic would tell us we got to just eat Corona and not because it'll be a net smaller death. OK. With all that said, even if that was true, you wearing your mask to places has no impact on any of that. Yeah, you know, it just doesn't. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I mean, again, it's it's a little more complicated than that. It's like it's it's disproportionately affecting one community. And if we just let those people die, that's not OK.
Speaking of the black and Latino. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Rich people fare better. Like, that's that's true out there. Oh, it should be. You're usually like the guy who owned the Clippers have Zali Sterling. Donald Sterling. Oh yeah. He was a great better person. OK. The Swedish word for not too much. Not too little lagom lagom. Just the right amount too. OK. And then we talk a little about shrooms on this podcast.
And it's it seems apropos for me to say since we recorded this, I have tried them. Yes, you tried them.
And I didn't even instigate it. You did not even instigate it. But I volunteered to be a part of it. Yes. And to be a baby sitter.
Yes. The sober, sober companion.
I am very grateful that there is a sober companion there. It was everything you said it was going to be. You were right. Say it again. I've said it a lot of times, but I'll say it again. I was wrong about Korona. But I was right about my. You're right. It was a lovely experience. And it was really cool to see the world in a brand new way.
Yeah. It's best to take your standard world. You've seen all the time that you're familiar with and recognize how much your brain is in charge of assembling these photons in a way that you call reality. Yeah. And then AlwaysOn your brain starts assembling them in a different way. Yeah. And it is a different reality. Yeah. And it cannot be experience without them. Yeah. I mean maybe some meditators can or something but. Yeah. To walk down a street that you've walked down.
I know it was. That was such a big takeaway for me is I just kept thinking I'm taking everything for granted. Yeah. This is beautiful. I, I, I walk down this street every not you know enough a lot. And, and I'm missing it. I miss it every time.
What I think what happens like the best way to explain it. And we've had a lot of experts on here talk about how your brain is fantastic at filing things into the subconscious. So operating the car, you're not thinking about driving the car.
You just drive the car because it the whole program is running in the subconscious. Yeah. And we're also great at getting rid of distractions so we can focus on the things we want, which means filing everything else into that white noise category. When you get on shrooms, it's no longer white noise. All right. There all these things that you've learned to ignore. Yeah. Through design. Yeah.
You now can see and I think probably for different people, there's a different level of that. Right. Because we talked about this on a couple episodes ago. I feel that I'm in my head all the time. Yeah. And you feel that way too. I'm in my head so much that I'm not paying attention to the physical world around me very often. And yes. So this was such a different reality for me. Whereas for some other people, I think it wasn't as extreme.
Right. It's not as big of a difference. Yeah. The other thing it's great at doing and this is well-documented in what's his name book. Michael Pollan's. Yep. Michael Bond's book is Your Brains really, really good at comprehending you as an individual. And then the world separate from you and around you. Yeah. In shrooms breaks down the barriers. A bit of your sense of individual illness in your sense of detachment. And you feel like when you touch the pavement and you touch the flower, that you're really interacting with it like in a way that is not.
I'm this and that's that. It's like a word this thing. And I don't know, there's.
Yeah, that's the thing. I also like about it is, though, it kind of shatters this obsession of your identity. Yeah.
Right. I guess. Well, so I had a tough start to I got really scared. Everyone who I trusted looked bizarre and everyone's getting high.
And I had completely forgotten. The most annoying part about doing drugs is that everyone just monitors how high they are. For the first hour. Yeah. Are you Orma.
Three. Are you two. I don't want. We'll look at those trees. Those are those trees. Yeah. Oh, that leaf doing that. No, this leaves not doing this. Is that leave doing this. No, I can't feel anything. I'm too high. The whole thing.
Yeah. I was like I need to step out until everyone just feels high. So I went inside and I started. Playing words with friends. Yeah. I was gone for 20 minutes and then it really hit you. Yeah. Twenty minutes. Yes. And you're like, what the fuck? You told me you're going to help me. And you've abandoned me.
Yeah. I felt like you gave me draw like well of a life like we've been talking about this for years. You've been trying to get me to do this for years. And then you you left switch at which I did.
It's very regrettable. But of all the people that we're doing it. You were zero percent high. You were 18.
I was. I was like, oh, she's not even high. And this conversation's annoying. I'm gonna go inside.
I was at high and then all of a sudden I looked down at my hands. Because you had said that when when you do shrooms, you'll give your hands a lot. So I was kind of checking in with my hands to see. And they were normal. And then all of a sudden I looked. And then they shriveled up into grandma hands right in front of my eyes. And it was so startling and scary.
And I thought, oh, am I a grandma now? Like, I didn't know what was happening.
And this my grandma now. And then immediately I felt really unsafe. And then abandoned. Yeah. And again, there's like layers of real life. This is why they're therapeutic. It's like whatever you really fear, it is going to be the loudest thing. If it goes wrong, it'll be the first thing that comes out. Yes. Like in real life, you're so linked to my train and Kristen's train and there's a certain amount of powerlessness in that.
Yeah. And what if we just disappear? And you're so linked to it. And then I just disappeared like it happened.
I know. It was bad. And I and I was crying, which was, I think, a bummer for everyone. And then you came out.
You came out to check on us. Know, I was, like, always coming back. And then you came back and then you looked fuzzy, huh? You didn't know if I was real. By the way, when I when I did come outside, you were crying and you were also laughing.
You know, that you were that you were like you were you were bouncing back and forth, didn't cry, laughing because we were telling this story about Ryan's dad calling. Aha. And I was lying during that because I was not literally paying attention. I was crying. But then Ryan was like, Monica hates this story. And then I started laughing because obviously I was not thinking about the story. But that was like a funny thing to say. But I was still crying.
Yeah. And then when I got very involved, you were you were thinking you cannot breathe. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you were really scared. Then I was like, OK, we need to reset. Yes. Go out on the street. Let's take a little walk. And no one's ever stopped breathing on shrooms. Anybody knows how to breathe. You don't even think about breathing.
Yeah. And then you came back. I did. And it was so impressive because when I saw you, I was like, oh, fuck, man. I told her to do this. It's gone south. Yeah. Generally, when it goes south, it stays south. Yeah. OK, yeah. I really kind of misled you. And I was very pessimistic and bombed. And then 50 minutes into the war, things started changing. And then you just had this very beautiful ride.
I did. So sweet. Well, you you said it. Listen, you can choose for the next three hours.
Things are going to be fucked up looking. Yeah.
And you get to decide how you see it. So I chose to enjoy it. And yeah, I did. And I did it. And it was it was really spectacular. Yeah. It was really cool. I was so happy on the ride home in the minivan. Chrysler, Pacifica. No better vehicle to have someone untrue.
OK, we don't need. Wow. I know. I love it. I love it. I love it. Hi, Yasko. You were right. This isn't to be missed. Yeah. Planet Earth. And I was like, thank God.
Yeah. Yeah, I feel that. I feel that. Yeah, I real nice. Yeah.
I was right back and I wouldn't put that on like if if that hadn't gotten turned around they would've been as bad as if you didn't end up getting your house after you get down. There it goes.
It was that level or worse for a lot of pressure on yourself. But you shouldn't have. But it. No, it was dumb that I split. But again, you really weren't tie at all.
Everyone else was a little high and you simply weren't like, who knows, maybe it hit so fast.
In my opinion, maybe not. Maybe it was more slow than I thought.
Another thing that just is relevant is that the initial idea was that people were going to microdots, which I was against. I was like, there's really no point in micro dosing, in my opinion. Now, it might be great for people like severe depression and they can do it and still work. And I have no opinion on that. But for the experience, I wanted you to have micro dosing, isn't it? So it started as a micro dosing experiment.
Yes. Quickly, no one felt anything. So then you guys doubled the microdots dose, which still is like, do what I know you should do. Yeah.
It's like have a cap and a stem and fuck and let's see what happens. Yeah.
So after this is what Elsom made it really tricky for me to help navigate you guys is like you guys took the one pill they need. Twenty five minutes later you took another pill and then then I got people out and I go get real shrooms and bring some someones eat chocolate lab and makes this chocolate. You guys that could have ten thousand mgs open or one.
What do you know. So then the real mushrooms were procured in real form that I knew about. Yeah. Caps and stems. But at this point that's now seventy five minutes from when you guys took the first. And I'm like you guys fucked this whole thing. Just keep them at the beginning. Like I said, now God knows I think this would be good for you. Anyways, it was left to me to basically dose you. Yeah. So I picked for everyone what they should have.
And for the most part, I did a good job. Yeah.
And that was another part I'm remembering now. So, OK, first of all, yes. I went in thinking this is gonna be a microdots situation, that maybe some colors are gonna be a little brighter than normal. Yeah. So my expectations were not set correctly. And then it did. They didn't catch up, too, when we. But you you kept changing your opinion, too. Like, I want more.
Like I feel nothing. Well, well, I was like. Now that I've done this. Yeah. I better feel something now. I did not want to feel like my art. My hands were grandma hands. Yeah. I just wanted what I was promised, which was that the world was going to be a little brighter and sparkly or something which you had been told from other friends who had Microtel, correct.
So so I was like, let's take a more. But I was I was not in the headspace that I was going to, like, take Reppel dump. Yeah. Yeah. So anyways, so when you were dosing us, you said to me, I think you should take this. And I said, Really? And you didn't like that.
I said that I did it because in my defense, I had lost complete control. You, like you guys, had taken the one pill, then the second pill. And I would at this point was like. If you want me involved, let me do this. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I understand your point of view. Like I already said, don't do that. Now we're here. And now it's time for you to listen to me.
So I was I was losing patience.
Totally. I understand that. And I was scared. Yeah. I was cleared. And I was just like. Are you like this seems like a lie.
Yeah. And in my defense, I was right like that, that that wasn't a microdot. Exactly. I was like.
This is what I'm doing. But I was skeptical and you didn't like it. And then I felt like, OK, now he's back at it me about that.
But you weren't the only person arguing. But if you recall, Yabut, you snapped at me. Course I did. I know. Exactly. So I.
And you know why? It's actually probably not that we disagreed about that. It's the I want you to trust me. And I'm pissed. You don't trust me because I would never. I know. Not take care of you. Although 20 months later I did not take think.
That was part of it. That was part of it. I said, OK.
OK. And then I. I did it. And then I was like, are you serious?
You got mad at me when I, when I pushed back and I said, OK, and now you're gone.
You had a big grievance. You had a legitimate grievance. Oh. But it all worked out.
It all worked out. It all worked out. And it was lovely. And I'm very grateful for you and I'm very thankful you were there. And I would not have been able to try her out if you weren't there.
Oh, well, I was it made me so happy that you guys had such a sweet night. Yeah, it's really funny, too, because of the, I'd say, the success of the evening. Yeah. It's kind of dissipated through our friendship circle. A couple different people told me, like, I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it. I'm going to go with my girlfriend and we're gonna do it. I forget where. And I was like, cool in.
Your girlfriend's done it. And. And she is like, no, no, I know. I'm like, you can't go to a new some place. They've never been. No, neither person have done it. I'm like, I'm telling you, you will convince yourself that you've got the one bad batch of mushrooms in your ad die. That's what's gonna happen if there's not someone there who's either done it a bunch or is sober like I am total to go.
Everything's chill. No one's ever been hurt. Let's start thinking about this. I agree. Yeah. I would not recommend to people on your own experiment. My friend Greg introduced me to it. I'll never forget what a fucking day I think. I was about 18 years out of high school and I was just like living in Detroit and working for my mom.
And I worked with this guy Greg, who I fucking love so much. And he had this big jar shrooms. He's like, if you ever want to do him. And he was a normal guy. Wasn't a druggie. Yeah. Like, if he had been like a druggie type, I wouldn't trust him. He's a pretty straight laced dude who believed in. I was at a young age. Yeah. He came over in four of us, did him at my mom's house, and then we wandered into Camp Dearborne, which I had been in a million times.
I knew we were supposed to look like. Yeah. And we wandered around the toboggan hills and I found a bulldozer that had the key in it and I drove a bulldozer.
I don't love that car, but it was such an incredible time. Yeah, I really was. And there's nothing grimy about it.
Like if you do coke, you get fucking gross. If you do ecstasy, you get pretty gross. Do meth, you get gross. Yeah. A lot of these drugs, they, you know, they bring out the pleasure center of your brain.
Yeah. The shrooms is not that at all. Shrooms is there's nothing grody about it. No.
Also for anyone who would want to sue me in the future because I told you, you do it. I'm telling you not to do it. Don't ever do shrooms.
Yeah. I'm not condoning anyone to you sure you're not allowed? No, I'm not encouraging anyone to. And I'm not liable. But my experience with shrooms was this and yours was that.
Yeah. Let's be very clear. Yes. Yes. Some arm chair, he gets looped up and rides a bicycle off.
I think that, too. No, no, no. We're not advocating to donate now.
This is our experience that we're sharing. Yes. We had a really funny moment where I kept pointing things out to Monica again, because I've done it 100 times and I know what's good, what things are going to look cool on it, what aren't. So I'm like, oh, Monica, look at the wood here.
Look at all the grain in the wood. I'm like, look at that house. You think there's a sitcom going on and they're going a drama.
And then you go, How do you know that? Are you on it or are you making me think that or do I think that? And you also like it was so funny.
I mean, I thought you weren't real because I thought maybe you were just in my brain somehow you're out on your own walk.
Yes, I did.
Oh, my God. You know everything I'm thinking. So which can't be you must be in my brain, which means you're not real. That was another big takeaway was would she know? I think we know this in life.
But it was so apparent how affected we are by other people and other people's energy. So when I say I bummed everyone out, I think that's for real. Like, oh, you're really glad you pulled me out quick because everyone probably would've started getting really sad really quick. Yeah, because your energy is so infectious. And if you point something out and it looks weird, like a grandma hand. Yeah. When I saw it first, I was like, wow.
And one of the other participants. Yes. Was like, I know. I know. I know. Yeah. And then we both. We're kind of feeding off of like, oh, that that got really scary real quick. OK. OK, yeah. But then later, when another participant was looking at hands, she was like, isn't it cool? Yeah.
And then I was like, this is to look down at your own hands that you've been staring at your whole lifetime. And for them to be different. Is awesome. It is, but you can choose, you either can see it. Look, both things are true. It is scary hard to see something, you know, to be real and substantial in front of you, not be that. And it's also cool. So whatever you say can have such a big impact on the people around you.
And that's just like so true about life. Oh, yeah. Energy. What? You say it again.
It does go to that thing I've seen where it's kind of eroding these walls between us, where it's like it is so transmissible. Yeah. Like the love's more transmissible. Yeah. Fear is more transmissible. It's all more transmissible.
But the thing is, I don't know that it's more I think it's the same amount as what we're doing day to day. We're just not as aware of it. Our energy does that on a daily basis.
I do agree, though, because the participant you're talking about in general life, that person can make an observation. You would go, well, yeah, of course she sees it that way, cause she's this is this thing. She's that she's listening. But I'm this thing, that thing and this thing. So it's not the same for me, though, cause that guy thinks that I always do this. Like, anytime I have a disagreement with someone's perspective, I immediately try to figure out why their perspectives different.
I don't assume that their perspective is correct. That's true.
I think of the reasons why we have different one.
But you can really share perspective in a way on shrooms that it's hard to share.
I guess. I mainly mean more energy wise, like other people are happy. You can you can borrow that energy. But if someone is sad around you, that has an impact, whether you you can logically be like that's separate from me, it is seeping in.
Oh, no. Well, anyone who has a partner who has depression has experienced that. Yeah. No.
So it's it again, social responsibility. You gotta take care of yourself so that you can take care of people around you. Yeah.
What are you going to do it again. Not in a rush to do it again. It was wonderful, but I definitely don't feel like I got to do that next week.
Again, that's it. Yeah, that's the thing. I'm sure it's not like getting drunk was like that was fun. I want to get fucked up tonight. There's something.
It's. It's a little exhausting. Yeah. Like the next couple days you're. Oh. Where you went through this thing. For sure. And then in a nice way though, in this like you're tapped into some emotion. Yeah. That's sweet. Yes. And you can feel it. And you're not anxious to get back in the fire because you're processing.
Right. And try and understand it.
All right. Don't do it. Don't do it.
Don't use drugs. Don't do that. But you.